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Last Updated: Thursday, 12 July 2007, 14:10 GMT 15:10 UK
Living in a surveillance society
Living in a surveillance society
Who's watching you?
How private is your private life?

Unless you're a celebrity, you might think no-one else either knows or cares what you get up to, as long as you keep within the law.

But with increasingly sophisticated technology, from supermarket loyalty cards to CCTV - that's no longer the case.

Now, a group of MPs is currently looking at whether technology is invading our privacy.

And all this week, Breakfast's Susannah Streeter is running a little experiment to see exactly who is watching us

Surveillance society
By Susannah Streeter
BBC Breakfast

The information commissioner, the UK's privacy watchdog has said we are sleepwalking into a surveillance society.

This week I'm looking at all aspects of our everyday lives - from going shopping, travelling to work or just socialising, to find out just how much information about ourselves is being gathered by third parties.

We have more than four million CCTV cameras in the UK, more than any other country in the world.

The network has been very effective in helping track down suspects in the recent anti-terrorism operations following the attempted bomb attacks in London and Glasgow.

But the cameras also record the law abiding members of the public going about their everyday lives.

If we use loyalty cards or credit cards we can earn points and receive money off vouchers, but we also allow retailers keep data on what we've bought and where we've bought it.

When we use the internet, records are kept about what we've been searching for, that can help if we want to log back on and do a similar search, but it also means the provider keeps detailed information about our surfing habits.

To test who can get hold of this information legally, a private investigator is on my case. Richard Martinez from Expedite Detective Agency will be using various methods to see how many personal details he can gather about me.

He won't actually be following me in person but he'll be finding out what kind of information is freely available electronically. We'll find out on Friday what he discovers.

On Wednesday we spoke to the Information Commissioner, Richard Thomas.

He told me that the bosses of companies and public organisations must to more to protect our personal data.

He said his office had discovered many unacceptable breaches of security. Documents with personal details have been left in bins, lap tops have been stolen and websites hacked into.

But what else can we do to protect our own personal information?

You can find out about your own personal information tool kit - just look for the link below or to the right of this page.

Part One: who's watching you?

Part Two: is our privacy being threatened?

Part Three: shop loyalty cards
And watch our interview with the Information Commissioner

Part Four: the online information trail

What did a private detective unearth about Susannah?

BBC Breakfast


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